Lucia's Blog: HOPE AND THE HEAVENLY REUNION!
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Sunday, February 16, 2020

HOPE AND THE HEAVENLY REUNION!

“The Lord himself will descend from Heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18



Our hands grow weak when our hope of Heaven grows dim. How do you envision Heaven? Is it really worth the demanding regeneration that Jesus requires? Is it really worth it all?

Almost everyone believes in Heaven, and I would imagine we all believe in it.  Christ's faithful saints, long to go to that place someday.  Indeed, Heaven is the reward of the faithful.  The eternal destiny of the righteous.  Heaven is God's abode.  It is the perfect dwelling of things eternal where God dwells and all other heavenly beings.  The place where the saints go to be with God (Revelation 21:3).  What an amazing blessing it is for God's faithful and righteous ones, His saints, to receive Heaven as their final reward and to be in His presence throughout all eternity!  It is too much for me to fathom!!  And though no one has ever seen God's face (John 1:8), in Heaven, we will not only see His face, but God will dwell among us.  Angels also dwell in Heaven (Rev. 4:4, 6; 5:6).  Only the saved among men will be in Heaven. Thus, Heaven will be the future dwelling or abode of the resurrected saints.  This abode of the saved or disembodied spirits is different from "Abraham's bosom" (Luke 16:22) or Paradise (Luke 23:43).  


I.   OUR HOPE:
"So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 6:17-20).

Christian's definition of hope is far superior to that of the world.  A Christian knows that his hope is based on solid, concrete evidence because it is grounded in the Word of God, and we know that God cannot lie (Heb 6:18; Num 23:19). The Christian has a faith that is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1).  It is the hope of faith that will not be shaken or moved by circumstances or what the eyes see because an unseen God is seen in His faithfulness.  

In Romans 8:24-25, Paul tells us that "For in hope were we saved: but hope that is seen is not hope: for who hopeth for that which he seeth?  But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."  

“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).

  • The Hope of Resurrection of The Dead:
"The hope and resurrection of the dead" (Acts 23:6).  
"So also is the resurrection of the dead.  It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:  it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:  it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body"  (1 Cor. 15:42-43).  

We have this assured hope (confidence) since Jesus was raised.  Therefore, we know that:
    •  “The Lord himself will descend from Heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess 4:16-18).  
    • We know that Christ "was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures"  (1 Cor 15:4) and "in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep"  (1 Cor 15:20).  So let us encourage one another with this hope of assurance (confidence)!
"Yea, we are found false witnesses of God; because we witnessed of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead are not raised"  (1 Corinthians 15:15).
"The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death"  (Proverbs 14:32).

  • The Hope of Eternal Life in Heaven:  
Peter encouraged those who were suffering persecution saying,
“According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time”  (1 Pet 1:3-5).  

  • Jesus Christ is Our Hope:  
Our hope is not in mankind, circumstances, or in any other thing but “we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” (1 Tim 4:10) because “Christ Jesus, who is our hope” (1 Tim 1:1; 2 Cor. 1:20).  Our Lord Jesus Christ is God's guarantee that His promises will be kept.  Peter spoke of this faith by quoting David in Acts 2:26
My heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope.” 

That is exactly why Paul told the Roman Christians to “rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Rom. 5:2) and desired that the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope”  (Rom. 15:13).

Therefore, in the resurrection
  1. The just shall live again and have eternal life (John 11:15; John 6:40).
  2. We will be raised up by God's power (1 Corinthians 6:14; Romans 8:11).
  3. All of us will be changed from corruptible to incorruptible (1 Cor. 15:51-54).
  4. So shall we (those who died in Christ) ever be with the Lord  (1 Thess. 4:17)
  5. We all will appear before the Supreme Judge of all to be judged according to our deeds  (2 Corinthians 5:9; Philippians 3:20-21).
  6. The just will be repaid (Luke 14:14).
  7. There will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust (Acts 24:15).
  8. We will be free from pain (Revelation 21:4).
  9. We will rest from our labors  (Revelation 14:13).
  10. We will drink of the water of life (Revelation 21:6).
  11. We will eat of the tree of life  (Revelation 22:2).


  • What is God's Definition of Death and the Afterlife?
Is death the worst tragedy one can experience?  Our culture answers this question with "me" centered answers But do those answers come from God or our culture?  Our culture shouts, "That is a lot of junk!  We have had all religious matters figured out for generations!"  Really?!  Our culture is confused or unsure about what comes after death.  And though they might not like it or accept it, it is a certainty that death is coming to all, and that is a fact of life.  No one lives forever!  You see, death is terrifying for those who do not know Godfor they do not know what lies beyond this life.  Sadly they are not ready to face it!  Our Philosophers or religious leaders love to speculate, saying that we cease to exist when we die or that we will be reincarnated.  Do they have any proof?  Not at all!

But God tells us in His Word what follows after death.  "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment"  (Hebrews 9:27).  And though Jesus may come before we die, we will be raised from the dead when He returns. We are going to face God and be judged for the lives we have lived, good or bad.  There won't be any escape.  For God will hold every one of us accountable for whether or not we have accomplished the purpose for which He created us (John 5:28,29; Ecclesiastes 12:14; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

At judgment,
    1. The righteous will inherit the kingdom prepared for them by God (Matthew 25:31-46 ). This is eternal life (v. 46). 
    2. The wicked will go into eternal fire (v. 41). This is eternal punishment (v. 46).  

So, what determines the reward we receive? Our works. We receive wrath if we work evil and do not obey the Truth. We receive eternal life if we continue doing good works. Our eternal destiny depends on how we accomplish our Maker's purpose.  In Acts 17:30-31, we find the answer to what will happen to us after we cease to live on this earth.  Jesus will judge our lives (1 Cor. 15).  There will not be any reincarnation, but instead, we all will be raised and judged.  The Bible is the proof for mankind that it is from God.  It establishes the resurrection of Jesus, His ascension, His miracles, and the fulfilled prophecies of Scripture.  Since the Bible is God's will for us, we can rest assured of life's origin, purpose, and destiny after life on this earth.  


II.  WHO WILL BE IN HEAVEN?

Take notice that Heaven is prepared only for the saved ones where they will dwell in their resurrected bodies.  Our salvation is laid up for us in Heaven (Col. 1:5; 1 Pet. 1:4).  The names of God's faithful and righteous ones are written in Heaven (Luke 10:20).  Heaven is God's building for us (2 Cor. 5:1). Our reward and treasures are in Heaven, (Matt. 5:12; 6:20; 19:21).  Sinners (those who die in their sins) are excluded from entering the gates of Heaven.
"8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death"  (Rev. 21:8, 27).

God is portrayed as the "God of heaven" (2 Chronicles 36:23; Neh. 1:4-5).  Thus Heaven is described as God's abode or dwelling (Isa. 57:15; 63:15; Matt. 6:9-10).  Heaven is the reward of the faithful.  It is where the righteous are accepted to dwell eternally in God's abode.  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are the occupants of Heaven (2 Chron. 36:23; John 1:32; 3:13; 31; 6:33, 38, 42, 51, 58).  

In Romans 2:5-8, 10, we read that God will give eternal life only  "to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life."  But to "those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury (hell).  You see, God will render each one of us an entrance into either Heaven or hell according to our works or deeds.  He will give eternal life (Heaven) only to those who do the will of God and persevere in faith and faithful service. Faith is not complete without active, good, and righteous works.  We are justified by works and not by faith alone. "For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead"  (James 2:18-26).  Modern Protestants err by making a distinction between "the faith that saves" (without obedience or "works") and the faith that obeys the Lord Jesus.  But such theology is pure folly. The Bible does not speak that way!

The Bible stresses the need to persevere (doing good works as a result of our active faith, James 2:18) and finish well to receive our crown of life (Heaven), Revelations 2:10.  Paul explicitly states that those who do not obey the Gospel of Christ will suffer punishment, eternal destruction, and the wrath of God "when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus"  (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).  

To persevere implies a habitual conduct worthy of the Gospel of Christ, a firm and steady faith (steadfast faith), instead of serving God from time to time when it is convenient, along with an endless number of excuses. They put worldly matters in first place, before God and His Kingdom of righteousness.  In Matthew 10:22, Jesus declared, "and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved."  You see, only those (the redeemed by the blood of Christ) who endure, walking in righteousness, holiness, and without blemish will be saved.  For Christians to receive eternal life, Heaven as their reward (the crown of life and glory), they must be faithful unto death.  There is no room here for lukewarmness or cowardice. We must be courageous and completely faithful to the Lord until the end of our lives.  

In Hebrews 12:1-2 we have been admonished to "lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."  It is crucial that we, Christians, finish the race well with endurance, putting away all sin and lawlessness to save our souls and receive our reward, which is Heaven.  

Sadly, many begin the "race" as champions, but soon get tired. They become distracted, discouraged, and stop running.  They don't continue the race to the end so that they might receive the prize (Heaven).  God will render to each one according to his works.  The word "works" includes all aspects of our life, not only our deeds but also our words, thoughts, and such.  "When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory"  (Colossians 3:4).  It means that we (the faithful ones)  will be in the presence of our Glorious God and we will be like Christ, His Son.  We will receive "immortality" because our resurrected body will not be subject to corruption anymore. Those "who in well-doing seek glory" are those who persevere in doing those righteous or good works that glorify God. Moreover, those who have died to sin (they have been buried with Him and raised from the dead with Him by baptism), walking in newness of life, crucifying the old self so that sin no longer reigns in them, but only righteousness. Only they will receive eternal life, Heaven as their reward. Therefore, if sin reigns in us and not righteousness, Heaven will not be our reward but eternal punishment, hell.


III.   WHAT IS HEAVEN LIKE?

Both Heaven and hell are described in terms that are easy for men to understand.  The Bible describes Heaven as a place of eternal bliss.  It uses metaphors to describe this place.  Let us think about some figures that the Bible uses to describe Heaven.
  1. Participation in the wedding feast where the bride of Christ is the church (Matt. 22:1-14; 25:10; Eph. 5:22-23).
  2. The joys of the Lord (Matt. 25:21, 23).  Heaven will surely be the "joys of our Lord." Therefore, He is patiently inviting all to share these joys with Him.
  3. The Lord's Kingdom as our inheritance (Matt. 25:34; cf. Acts 20:32; Eph. 1:11, 14; 1 Pet. 1:4-5).  Inheriting the Lord's kingdom implies possessing it as our permanent possession.  God's kingdom will endure forever, and He will reign forever as well in His Kingdom.
  4. Everlasting life (Matt. 25:46; 7:14; 19:29).  Spiritual life rather than spiritual death (the second death).
  5. Sitting with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matt. 8:11) and being invited to sit at the King's table and having table fellowship with the Lord in the Kingdom of Heaven in terms of a great Messianic banquet.
  6. It is where Christ will confess us before His Father (Matt. 10:32).  He will confess His fellowship and friendship with those who are His faithful children.
  7. It is our final reward (Matt. 5:12; 10:42; 1 Cor. 3:14; Col. 2:18; 3:24; Heb. 11:26).  This is where the faithful will be rewarded graciously for serving God with all of our love, strength, mind, and heart. 
  8. Everlasting habitations (Luke 16:9).  And though the Bible describes our earthly bodies as "tabernacles" (2 Cor. 5:1), which will be destroyed by fire, those who are the faithful will receive a building not made with hands (an incorruptible body) that will dwell in eternal habitations.
  9. A home (Eccl. 12:5) where we will dwell with God the Father, our Elder Brother, our Lord and Savior, and all those faithful ones who have gone before us, forever in sweet fellowship. The word "home" is one of the most precious words in any language.  We long to be at "home" with our heavenly Father and all His faithful children. Such a precious hope!
  10. It is where we will be reunited with our loved ones.  It will be the renewal association with those saints who have gone before us.  Many of us have experienced the sorrow over the passing of our loved ones.  It is so comforting to have this promise!!  I can't stop weeping!
  11. It is the New Jerusalem (Rev. 3:12; 2:12; 21:2, 10).  It is the home of our King of kings and Lord of lords.
  12. It is the Holy City (Rev. 21:22; 22:19) where spiritual sacrifices are offered.
  13. It is a place where there will be no sin or lawlessness (Rev. 21:8, 27).
  14. A place where all of our troubles and the cares of life will end.
  15. A place of eternal rest (Rev. 14:13) where all of our labors and trials will be over.
  16. A place of perfect safety and protection, where the gates never close (Rev. 21:15).
  17. A place where God will tabernacle among men (Rev. 21:3).
  18. Paradise (Rev. 2:7) as the Garden of Eden that man lost because of sin but will regain through Christ.
  19. The water of life and the tree of life (Rev. 21:6; 22:1; 1:17; Rev. 2:7; 22:2. 14).
  20. Finally, a place of eternal life (Mark 10:30; John 3:15-16; Rom. 2:7).  It will be an eternal spiritual fellowship that will never end.

IV.   THE BEAUTY OF HEAVEN AND THE DESTINY OF ALL MEN:

In Revelation 20-22John received a clear revelation of God's Final Judgment and man's ultimate destiny.  God has not told us the time of the end, but God has indeed shown us through His revealed Word that when that time comes, there will be two classes of men meeting their destiny:  The redeemed and unredeemed (Rev. 20:11-15; 21:8; 27; 22:15).  John saw the dead, small and great, standing before the throne of God in Heaven, waiting for God to execute His sentence.  The term "small and great" does not necessarily mean a particular group of people, but rather the dead in general.  God will weigh us in His scales of judgment according to our works or deeds, which are recorded in God's books.  His books contain a record of all that men have done in the flesh, and His "book of life" is a register of those who are redeemed.  No one will escape God's Judgment!

If any man's name is not found in the "book of life," his "book of works" will condemn and doom him to the lake of fire.  On the other hand, if any man's name is found in the "book of life," he will be safe from God's Judgment (condemnation).  He will be with the great body of the redeemed.  

Revelation 21-22:5 speaks of the destiny of the redeemed. They will inherit the new Heaven as their abode with God throughout all eternity.  He will have perfect fellowship with them, and there will be no more separation because in this new Heaven and earth, "the sea is no more."  John describes for us the perfect description of a beautiful city where God's redeemed will dwell with Him in perfect fellowship.  This amazing city is a symbolic picture of a city with walls of jasper placed on foundations of sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, beryl, topaz, amethyst, etc.  Each of its twelve gates is a huge pearl where its streets are made of pure gold.  In that beautiful heavenly city, there is no need of any lamp since their Light is the Lamb.  There is no temple either.  The temple was where sacrifice and intercession were made for sin.  This temple is not needed anymore in the New Jerusalem since there is no more sin to be atoned and because those who are the redeemed are in the presence of God.  People of all nations inhabit this glorious city.  

The Garden spoken of in Revelation 22:1-5 symbolizes the destiny of the redeemed.  It is indeed a beautiful Garden with a river of crystal water, which is the water of life that emerges from the throne of God and of the Lamb.  On each side of this river grows the tree of life which bears its fruit twelve months out of the year.  Three things are essential to sustain life:  food, water, and healthThis picture symbolizes all that is needed to sustain eternal life in man.  In this Garden, men shall serve God forever.  There will be no barriers, obstacles or impediments in Heaven, and His servants shall serve Him.  

Another beautiful thought is found in the expression, "They shall see His face."  Don't we all have this longing?!!  I do!!  When this earth is passed, and we all find ourselves in the presence of our Redeemer-God, then we will all look at the face of our Lord and serve Him forever, for all eternity. What greater joy could any human being ask for?!  Could there be a better and longing than for eternal life with our Redeemer?!  Could there be a better or more perfect place of fellowship, protection, provisions, and service to our God?!  What a terrible contrast between the destiny of the wicked and the destiny of the redeemed!


CONCLUSION:

Since we will be judged according to what we have done, as to whether or not we have accomplished our Maker's purpose, humanity must hear the good news, the Gospel Message.  The good news that Jesus came and died to forgive our sins (1 John 1:8,10, Romans 5:6-10; 6:23; John 3:16).  Thus, we must start telling and teaching everyone about our Savior and His plan of redemption.

God has promised victory over death, the resurrection from the dead.  He will resurrect us the same way He did our Lord and Savior. 
"This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses." Acts 2:32 
"But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive."  I Corinthians 15:20-22  
"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures."   I Corinthians 15:3-4 
"For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.  But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.'" I Corinthians 15:53-57  

Although our path to Glory is not easy, Heaven will surely be worth it all!!  It is worth being exiled from home, family, and friends. It’s worth the loneliness, the pain, the suffering, and the high cost we have been called to pay.  Heaven is worth all the pain that comes our way!  It’s worth the hatred and persecution. It’s worth all of our sorrows and attacks. Heaven is surely worth it all!!

May we all conquer so that we may receive our inheritance and be with God forever in Heaven.  May our names be written in the Lamb's book of life. May we all be encouraged by the hope that is set before us, which we have as an anchor of the soul.


Luci

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